Mets starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia delivers to home plate during...

Mets starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia delivers to home plate during the first inning of a game against the Washington Nationals. (July 26, 2013) Credit: AP

WASHINGTON -- For so long, he had been the forgotten prospect. Injuries had made it so. He needed Tommy John surgery, and after a comeback that was as brief as it was forgettable, he was sidelined for much of the spring with elbow tendinitis.

Even in the age of saturation coverage and social media, "out of sight, out of mind'' still holds true. How easy it became to forget that before there was Zack Wheeler, before there was Matt Harvey, there was Jenrry Mejia.

But Mejia didn't forget, and in Friday's 11-0 thrashing of the Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader, he showed why he once reigned as the organization's top pitching prospect.

The 23-year-old righthander held the Nationals to seven hits and no walks in seven innings, striking out seven. Ten outs came on ground balls.

"I had every pitch," said Mejia, who hit the jackpot after the game.

Manager Terry Collins will institute a six-man rotation to work around the innings limits imposed on Harvey and Wheeler. With that, Mejia learned that his first start of 2013 will not be his last.

"I haven't seen him . . . that good in a long time," Collins said. "The command of his stuff was very, very good -- his location."

Mejia mixed in his slider and changeup, a lethal cocktail when combined with a fastball that appeared to regain the movement that was missing last season when he pitched as a September call-up. That was his first major-league action since elbow surgery in 2011.

Mejia flashed moments of brilliance for the first time since 2010, when he burst on the scene as a 20-year-old with limitless potential.

Word had reached Collins that during Mejia's minor-league rehab stint, he again flashed "plus stuff" and command. Mechanical corrections, Collins said, restored the natural movement on his fastball. And against the Nationals' reeling offense, Mejia brought the scouting reports to life.

Asked if he enjoyed his best day as a big-leaguer, Mejia responded with a wide smile and a question of his own: "What do you think?"

His expression already had given his answer.

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